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PetSmart Store Leaves Lizards to Rot

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post | December 21, 2011

According to a whistleblower, two bearded dragons languished in the back room of a Chicago-area PetSmart store for six months, apparently suffering from improperly treated eye infections that spread to their jaws and caused their faces to rot away.  

After pressure from PETA, the store’s manager finally took the bearded dragons to a veterinarian who put them out of their misery, but untold numbers of other animals are likely languishing in PetSmart stores and its suppliers’ warehouses across the country. PETA’s undercover investigations have shown time after time that this kind of cruelty is business as usual for PetSmart and its suppliers.

PETA revealed horrors at Rainbow World Exotics, one of PetSmart’s main animal suppliers, including throwing live animals into the trash, crude neuter surgeries performed in a dark and filthy room by a layperson, depriving animals of desperately needed veterinary care, and leaving them to cannibalize each other, suffer, and die alone in their cages.

At Sun Pet, another PetSmart supplier, an employee—who has since been fired—placed hamsters in a bag and bashed it against a table in an attempt to kill them. Other animals who couldn’t be sold were gassed in a crude, filth-encrusted tank.   

Animals at the now-defunct U.S. Global Exotics, Inc., which supplied exotic animals to PetSmart, were crammed into severely crowded and filthy containers, including soda bottles and milk jugs, litter pans, cattle-feeding troughs, and barren wire cages. Hundreds of animals were denied basic necessities, such as food, water, and veterinary care.

And PETA’s undercover investigation of a PetSmart store in Manchester, Connecticut, documented that more than 100 animals—including hamsters, rats, lizards, chinchillas, and birds—were deprived of adequate veterinary care and just left to die slowly, hidden from customers’ sight. PetSmart boasted that this store had an “outstanding pet care team” and an “exceptional pet care record.” Pathetic.

Please show PetSmart that you haven’t forgotten about the animals who suffer unseen. Boycott PetSmart, and tell company officials that you won’t set foot in their stores until live animals are no longer part of the inventory.



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  • Andrew Hicks says:

    I agree fully with this article, a couple years ago I bought a leopard gecko from my local petsmart, it got a rare disease of the eye and died shortly after. I figured this was a rare case so I got over it. More recently I bought a baby bearded dragon, once I got home I realized it has rot on two toes and the tip of its tail. I plan on never buying fom them again after returning my bearded dragon. Also while in their store on Black Friday I noticed they had more animals out than normal, several didn’t look healthy, most didn’t have proper heat and calcium dusted food.

  • Deb says:

    It angers me to read stores like this because I work for Petsmart and I would NEVER let this happen to any of the animals in my care. Seriously why would the employee document the suffering of these lizards and do nothing about it. Even if the store manager is being a jerk, you can go above him because it is policy that things like this don’t happen. I know at least at the stores I have worked at that caring for the animals and ensure they are always healthy and happy is our number one priority. I just wish people would take action instead of standing by watching suffering so they can write about it to Peta. 🙁

  • Yellowmudkip says:

    I had no Idea! I love bearded dragons and all animals but this is sick! I’m defiantly not buying a pet from them!

  • Coty says:

    I work at a PetSmart in NJ and none of this stuff I’m seeing makes any sense. We treat all of our animals like they’re our own. We take them to the vet the second we think something could be off and we handle them all the time to get them comfortable around people before they get a home. Whenever we get an animal in the store that is “not sellable” we adopt them out to a good home (usually with an associate) we’re all animal lovers. It honestly upsets me to see all of this because it is so far from the truth- at least for the stores in my area. I wouldn’t work at a place that mistreated animals. If these things really happened in those stores, they should be shut down immediately- but I can tell you as a normal “behind the scenes” associate its not true for all of the stores. I’m very disturbed by this.

  • angie says:

    those poor babies and 4 the people who said they work there u might be telling the truth or might be lying either way dont trust you cuz your just saying that because you work there but im still confused with the petsmart thats like 3 blocks away from my house and i recently bought a juvenile gecko there the first time i went there to get the supplies there was a really nice girl that seemed that she loved the reptiles she gave them water and pet them but the third day i went there to get the actual animal and these too girls seemed like they didnt care at all bout the animals so im pretty confused about my petsmart and btw i live in galveston they just built it:(

  • Danielle says:

    I currently work at Petsmart and I have worked at multiple locations and NONE of the animals were ever treated unfairly. We handle the animals personally so they can feel comfortable with people, for when they get a home. At the slightest sign of sickness or injury we make sure that the animal is cared for properly and checked out at the vet.

  • Shelly says:

    I just wanted to say that the Petsmart in Summerville SC does not treat their animals that way -I just purchased a bearded dragon a few weeks ago and have visited their store many times.. Their pets always “appear” in good health.

  • Ursa says:

    That’s horrible! I own a bearded dragon and he’s so sweet,I would never leave him neglected and without love. and every time I see this it makes me cringe.

  • krista says:

    i dont think all petsmart employees treat animals like this, however i do think that the ones who do are clearly ruining petsmarts reputation. i have adopted a cat and a dog from petsmart when they were adopting animals out on behalf of a local animal shelter and they were both treated well and had no issues… however, i would never in a million years leave my dog at that same petsmarts grooming center. i cant even remember all the times i’ve been in there to have my dogs nails cut (its half the price than at the vet) and have seen dogs being jerked and pulled around on top of a table, while tied to their little post, because the person grooming them was overly aggressive. i think there are people who work at petsmart because they love animals and i think there are people who work at petsmart because thats the only job they can get and those are the people who are ruining it for the people who really care about the animals.

  • IndeCan says:

    That’s just sad. We have to get to the point in this country where we appreciate life for it’s intrinsic value, and not just as a commodity to sell back and forth.

  • Ash says:

    I used to work for Petsmart but that only lasted a few months. The manager at the time was only concerned with one thing, trying to sleep with all of the female employees. I had heard rumors that after I left, another employee had boiled a ball python alive, but that rumor was never confirmed. Petsmart was by far one of the worst companies I had ever worked for. Completely off topic, but they never even gave me my W2 after I left. I have given them every address I moved to since then and still nothing. Petsmart should get a huge lawsuit.

  • kurisu7885 says:

    Glad the one I visited was a crap ton better than this. If I had seen this on my visit I would have pulled out my phone and called the police right then and there.

  • mara says:

    How often do things like this happen at home though? Quite often. Don’t know why Petsmart is being singled out. The stores don’t have room to house all animals in their necessary sized habitats, and plenty of owners lack space, money, knowledge etc to do the same. If your going to boycott Petsmart, boycott animals as pets in general, not the store selling them.

  • Anjb says:

    I work at a petsmart in texas and I can tell you for a fact that my store doesn’t do that. Our staff treats these animals as if they were their own. Its sad to hear other associates at petsmarts aren’t taking their job seriously but not all of us are like that. And if the company knew that, that was going on they would investigate it. We’re here for the pets and the pet parents.

  • Samantha says:

    This is so sad . Petsmart should not be allowed to sell pets there staff is obviously not fit to take care of them . I am no longer shopping at Petsmart and everyone else shouldn’t shop there either until they stop neglecting animals .

  • Deb says:

    This is terrible PetSmart should be ashamed

  • Jazmyn says:

    ohh my gosh this is horriblee!!!!

  • Pet smart says:

    Grooming pets is essential with all the tender loving care we can give to maintain the necessary hygiene in the domestic environment.

  • A person... says:

    this is terrible but int this in chicago? what if we arnt from chicago….. just sayen

  • liam says:

    our petsmart only has animals from a local shelter that you adopt. none are for sale. the animals rotate back to the shelter if they aren’t being adopted and have lots of vet care. more petsmarts and pet stores for that matter should work this way.

  • Vicky says:

    I think that if you see that an animal is being mistreated you could contact your local animal charity , we have the RSPCA in England which comes out to mistreated pets/domestic animals. I’m not sure what the equivalent is in America.

  • Daniela G. says:

    How do things like these keep happening? Do people have no humanity at all? Lawsuits! Lawsuits for all of them!

  • John Alexander Gibson says:

    This is why I won’t ever buy a pet from a pet shop, I always feel a great sadness when I see these magnificent animals in a tank, a tank that is hardly big enough for a money spider never mind a lizard. These big companies that are involved in these cruelties should be shut down, such crimes cannot go unpunished. The same rights that are afforded to our species should be offered to all others, no animal should suffer these acts of cruelty, by law all species should be protected and if anyone abuses this law they should go to jail for life.

  • Rachel says:

    There is a Petsmart in my area who does the same stuff and it makes me angry my family and I has complained and they still don’t do anything about it we refuse to buy our pet supplies from them. They had a bird it was a parakeet with puss coming out of it’s eyes and other animals looking like they were suffering because they were sick from something. Instead we are buying from another pet store who has very caring staff and treat there animals with respect. Something needs to be done about this problem.

  • Ashley says:

    all I can say is WHY? why are people so evil? 🙁